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April 25, 2013
The global distribution and burden of dengue

A team led by Professor Simon Hay of the department of Zoology has just been published in the journal ‘Nature', finding that the global burden of dengue infection is more than triple current estimates from the World Health Organization.

The research has created the first detailed and up-to-date map of dengue distribution worldwide, as well as estimates of the total numbers of people affected by the virus globally, regionally and nationally. The findings of the study reveal that dengue is ubiquitous throughout the tropics, with local spatial variations in risk influenced strongly by rainfall, temperature and urbanisation.

The team estimates that there are 390 million dengue infections across the globe each year, of which 96 million reach any level of clinical or subclinical severity. This is more than triple the WHO's most recent estimates of 50-100 million infections per year.

Until now, little was known about the current distribution of the risk of dengue virus infection and its public health burden around the world. These findings will help to guide efforts in vaccine, drug and vector control strategies. With endemic transmission in Asia and the Americas, recent outbreaks in Portugal, and the increasing incidence in Africa, the challenges of making an effective dengue vaccine or controlling the vector are ever more important.